Album Reviews

Starsailor – All The Plans

(Virgin) UK release date: 9 March 2009

Ho-hum, another Starsailor album. You’d have thought the Chorleyquartet would have taken the hint and packed it in long ago.Apparently, though, the prospect of being sold at �7.87 bysupermarkets who will subsequently pick the album’s corpse foradvertising background music was just too tempting. Can you blamethem? Yes. Yes, you can.

Inevitably, of course, there’ll be a few deluded critics whoflagellate themselves with that most tired of music mantras: ‘a returnto form’. But what form are we talking about? In 2001, the nation’smusic press suffered an uncontrollable fit of Emperor’s New Clothessyndrome, declaring Starsailor to be the next big thing. The narcoticeffect of imagining a fat, naked man to be resplendently clothed isobviously bound to linger.

Any child with eyes could see, of course, that Starsailor were, andremain, a bunch of hacks that copied as much of Jeff Buckley‘s sound as was necessary to cash in on the memory of that most talentedman. Then, without any sense of shame, they went and nicked the nameof one his Dad’s albums for their own.

So, roll on All The Plans and a fresh set of grotesqueries. This isan album we are supposed to be very excited about because RonnieWood of the The Rolling Stones was on hand to play guitarfor the recording sessions in Henley. So they were working with thegrandaddy of the middle-class mid-life crisis, in England’s capital ofmiddle-class mid-life crisis. Sounds promising.

Opener and first single Tell Me It’s Not Over is a predictable washof cliches: “If you love someone don’t throw it away”. Frontman JamesWalsh recently gibbered that, “It’s got a massive drum beat,reminiscent of Doves and U2.” Stop laughing back there!He’s not wrong, actually. The problem is that there’s a massive differencebetween ‘reminiscent’ and blatant copycat-ism.

In a nutshell, that’s the whole problem with Starsailor. They don’thave a sound of their own. They just rip off what they like of otheracts and then reduce it to the lowest common denominator. All ThePlans is full of driving piano, anthemic guitar, and a bit of swagger.They owe a huge debt to Coldplay, Ocean Colour Scene,and Oasis which, in itself, must be quite galling.

Then there are the lyrics, which are uniformly as shallow as abasin. “Is love just a big mistake, just a risk that we all take?”,Walsh splutters on The Thames. You Never Get What You Deserve is a by-the-numbers take on the perils of fame, including… drugs! Gasp! CueStars & Stripes, in which Walsh tells us all about Americanprotectionism and xenophobia, fulfilling all the criteria necessaryto prove that he is too stupid to see past the immediatelyobvious.

Of course, it is the Emperor who is always the most enamoured withthe illusion. So, as long as Starsailor think they are really, reallygreat, they’ll probably keep releasing records. On closer Safe AtHome, Walsh moans, “There’s still a cloud, hangs over my head, can’tblock it out, I’m going to bed”. Hold on to the hope that All ThePlans flops spectacularly enough to convince Starsailor to do justthat.

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More on Starsailor
Starsailor – All This Life
Starsailor – All The Plans
Starsailor – On The Outside
Starsailor @ Somerset House, London